The Among The Kings tour finally arrives in the North East of England as Anthrax make a rare appearance in the region.
Anthrax made a brief pitstop in Newcastle in 2012 as support to the mighty Motorhead, but tonight is the band’s first full headline show in the city since the State of Euphoria tour in 1989 where Anthrax played the nearby Newcastle City Hall, a stone’s throw away from this very room.
The anticipation in the packed out Northumbria University in Newcastle is palpable, as legions of the North East rock fraternity gather en masse to witness the band’s return. It doesn’t take long for the room to get very hot and sweaty.
Tonight’s two-hour concert extravaganza is very much a show of two halves. To make the evening just that little bit more special, the band recently invited their fans to vote for songs to be played as part of their set on this tour from a list of classics and numbers from their impressive 11th studio album For All Kings, which is arguably one of their strongest releases in recent times.
Anthrax takes to the stage with a triple whammy of “A.I.R”, “Madhouse” and “Evil Twin”. The latter of which is one of three songs included in the set from their latest offering along with the incredibly melodic “Blood Eagle Wings” and first set finisher “Breathing Lightning”.
Scott Ian donning his trademark cargo shorts and grasping his Jackson Flying V teases the Tyneside audience with the intro to “Be All End All”, the fans chant along in unison, by this point there is a huge circle pit forming in the epicentre of the crowd, which seems to get bigger as the night progresses.
Joey Belladonna clutching his short hand mic stand engages the audience and commands the stage throughout. Tonight Belladonna’s voice sounds incredible.
The late 80’s witnessed a real renaissance in thrash metal, with the “Big Four” leading the way with the likes Slayer’s Reign In Blood, Metallica’s Master of Puppets and Megadeth’s Peace Sells all sitting side by side Anthrax’s seminal album Among The Living during this time.
After a brief interlude, the band return to the stage for the second half of the show to the sound of The Blues Brothers “I Can’t Turn You Loose”. This is the night’s main event as Anthrax revisit their timeless classic in full, performing the album in its entirety, deep cuts and all, to mark its 30th anniversary. For roughly the next hour, the Geordie audience is taken back to 1987, as the band deliver Among The Living in all of its glory.
By their own admittance, the band rejig the track order from that on the record to better suit the live scenario. From the opening notes of the title track, the crowd hang on every word of every song. The band execute the classic “Caught In A Mosh” at breakneck speed, which is emphasised by the devastating rhythm section of drummer Charlie Benante and bass player Frank Bello.
Scott Ian delivers the unmistakable opening riff to “I Am The Law” which in terms sends the crowd into a fist-pumping frenzy. Although it is the relentless thrash metal of “A Skeleton In The Closet” which stands out in the show, with its crunchy guitar riffs, twin part harmonies, pulsating drum groove and a blistering guitar solo from Jon Donais.
Drummer Charlie Benante leads the band into the anthemic “Indians” with some rhythmic tribal drumming, before the band bring Among The Living to a fitting close with “Imitation of Life”. A song which Ian states the band wrote in ’86 when things were strange, but things have got stranger 31 years later, the song still holds up and makes sense.
Thirty years after it’s initial release, Among The Living still sounds as fresh as it did back in 1987. Anthrax are in the form of the lives, and long may they continue.
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Event Date: 16-FEB-2017